Within five days of having wisdom teeth removed, most patients experience relatively little pain, but most still have well over half of their opioid painkiller prescription left, a new study finds.
“When translated to the broad U.S. population, our findings suggest that more than 100 million opioid pills prescribed to patients following surgical removal of impacted wisdom teeth are not used, leaving the door open for possible abuse or misuse by patients, or their friends or family,” said study author Dr. Brandon Maughan of the University of Pennsylvania.
The study included 79 patients who had their wisdom teeth removed, according to HealthDay.
Three weeks after their surgery, only five had finished their prescribed opioid painkillers.
The findings appear in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Some dental schools are training their students to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers they prescribe for their surgical patients.
Dentists are among the leading prescribers of opioids, especially for surgical tooth extractions, NBC News reports.
The University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine is training students to give their surgical patients detailed explanations of the best way to take opioids and dispose of them. They give patients a two-week prescription that is not refillable.
“I think we find today that prescribing needs to include both education as well as dispensing,” said Dr. Paul Moore, professor of pharmacology and anesthesiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. “We teach all of our students here if you’re going to write a prescription for an opioid it is important to follow our checklist that includes the kinds of information that you need to provide that patient.”
As many as half of...
Dental schools in Massachusetts have agreed to begin training their students in opioid abuse prevention and management, WBUR reports.
The state already has reached similar agreements with the heads of the state’s medical schools.
“The fact is that over 80 percent of those prescriptions which are diverted or misused comes from prescriptions written by physicians and dentists,” said Dr. David Keith, a Massachusetts General Hospital oral surgeon who is also on the faculty at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.
He said the agreement is a unique opportunity for the dental schools and the Massachusetts Dental Society to “come together to educate our dentists and advanced dental trainees in the correct prescribing of opioids,” including alternative pain management techniques and proper referral practices to other disciplines.
The agreement between Governor Charlie Baker, the deans of the state’s dental schools, and the Massachusetts Dental Society will cover the 1,800 undergraduates and 550...